When Shanti Pereira raced into the history books at the Asian Games, clinching Singapore’s first athletics gold medal in 49 years, it filled us with immense pride. As a nation prone to self-deprecation about the state of its sports achievements, perhaps we are being too hard on ourselves (and our athletes).
But more than medals and glory, participation in sports is one of the most unifying and inspiring social activities. With the exception of our national pastime of eating out, the reach of sports to transcend across race, class, age, and gender is unrivalled. For that reason, the PAP government will continue to invest strongly in sports. To support our athletes to reach their maximum potential and ensure plenty of opportunities for all Singaporeans to engage in it.
This year, we celebrate 50 years of Sport Singapore. Here’s a look at some of our sporting milestones as we continue our journey to become a leading sports nation in the region and encourage Singaporeans to “Live Better Through Sport”.
1973: Singapore hosts its first international sports event
With more than 1,500 athletes from seven countries, the opening ceremony for the 7th Southeast Asian Peninsular (SEAP) Games was a colourful affair. It also marked the first time Singapore hosted an international sporting event after gaining independence. Since then, this little red dot has gone from strength to strength, hosting major international events such as the inaugural Youth Olympics and the F1 Grand Prix.
1982: Ang Peng Siong puts Singapore on the world map
Long before Joseph Schooling, Ang Peng Siong put Singapore on the world map when he clinched the gold medal at the US National Championship in 1982. His timing of 22.69 seconds in the 50-metre freestyle was Singapore’s national record for 32 years. As the poster boy of swimming, Ang inspired a generation of swimmers and made swimming one of the most popular sports in Singapore.
2004: Opening of the Singapore Sports School
Then-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong pictured with students from the Singapore Sports School (SSP). The idea of a specialised sports school to nurture local sporting talent came about in the late 1990s. Since opening in 2004, the SSP has produced many of our Team Singapore athletes. More importantly, it is an integral part of our sporting ecosystem, providing multiple education pathways to support our student-athletes to pursue a sporting career.
2013: Development of ActiveSG
Minister Lawrence Wong at the launch of ActiveSG – the national sport movement. With a network of gyms and pools island-wide, ActiveSG has extended the reach of sports to Singaporeans from all walks of life. In addition, ActiveSG Academies and Clubs have helped to inculcate a love of sports at an early age, bringing together children from diverse backgrounds and abilities to learn and play.
2016: Launch of the Disability Sports Master Plan
Senior Parliamentary Secretary (SPS) Eric Chua at Play Inclusive, Singapore’s largest unified sports competition that sees individuals with and without disabilities teaming up. “I hope it continues to bring more people, regardless of abilities, together to connect and have some sporting fun!” shared SPS Chua. Part of the Disability Sports Master Plan, the annual event is part of our goal to increase sporting opportunities for persons with disabilities (PWDs) and build a more inclusive society.
2019: Increasing community participation with Pesta Sukan
Minister Grace Fu enjoyed a round of hopscotch and a dose of nostalgia with the Pesta Sukan Games. Also known as “Sports Festival” in Malay, Pesta Sukan was Singapore’s first sports festival in 1964. Since 2019, this sporting heritage has become part of GetActive! Singapore, encouraging Singaporeans to engage in friendly competitions and build stronger bonds with one another.
2023: Revival of the Singapore Sports Hub
A year after the handover of the Singapore Sports Hub to new management, the area has been a hive of sporting activity. From the Singapore Sevens to the National School Games, Kallang is now a vibrant community space that Singaporeans can identify with and feel for, shared Minister Edwin Tong. And with the soon-to-be-ready Football Hub and Tennis Centre, Singaporeans can look forward to the Kallang Alive Precinct as the new heartbeat of our sporting community.
Photo Source: National Archives/ Sport Singapore/ Grace Fu/ Eric Chua via Facebook